Although the upswing in advanced breast cancer cases among young women is slight, experts report that it is “statistically significant and worrisome.”
“This is contrary to what has been seen generally in other breast cancer trends, including a marked decline in late stage disease in older women,” stated Dr, Mark Citron, who led the Long Island arm of a nationwide study. That study culminated in the approval of Kadcycla, a new therapy for advanced breast cancer.*
“Advanced breast cancer is not curable,” he added. “Patients may go into long-term remissions, but once it has advanced it can spread to the bones, lungs, liver or brain.”
Reporting in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Rebecca Johnson and her colleagues from the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology program at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington State pinpointed the rise in women between 25-49. What they found was that 3 in every 100,000 young women developed advanced cancer nationwide in 2009, up from 1.53 cases per 100,000 in 1976. However, they were at a loss to explain the increase, although Dr. Brian O’Hea, director of the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Center at Stony Brook University speculated that the upward trend could be the result of better diagnostics and that more cases are being detected because of that.
“Our methods of detecting metastic disease have improved dramatically. 15 years ago we didn’t have PET scans; we did bone scans, and I don’t think that technology of that era was catching everything.”
*Kadcycla aka ado-trastuzumab emtansine is indicated for use in patients previously treated with trastuzumab and a taxane, separately or in combination, for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.
Readers interested in learning more about breast cancer research and treatments can contact Susan G. Komen for the Cure 74, Batterson Park Rd., Farmington, CT 06032 860 321-7806.